Research breakthrough targets genetic diseases

January 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A cure for debilitating genetic diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia and Fragile X syndrome is a step closer to reality, thanks to a recent scientific breakthrough.

The finding, which was published in Science on January 15, is the result of a collaboration between a team led by Dr Sureshkumar Balasubramanian at The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences and Professor Dr Detlef Weigel at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany.

It identifies an expansion of a repeat pattern in the DNA of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana that has striking parallels to the DNA repeat patterns observed in humans suffering from neuronal disorders such as Huntington's disease and Fredereich’s ataxia.

Lead researcher from UQ, Dr Balasubramanian, said being able to use the plant as a model would pave the way toward better understanding of how these patterns change over multiple generations.

“It opens up a whole new array of possibilities for future research, some of which could have potential implications for humans,” Dr Balasubramanian said.

The types of diseases the research relates to, which are caused by “triplet repeat expansions” in DNA, become more severe through the generations but were difficult to study in humans due to the long timeframes involved.

A plant model with a relatively short lifespan would allow scientists to study DNA mutations over several generations, Dr Balasubramanian said.

The study, called “A genetic defect caused by a triplet repeat expansion in Arabidopsis thaliana”, also had implications beyond human diseases, Dr Balasubramanian said.

While the DNA patterns were previously only seen in humans, current findings have shown the patterns occur in in distant species such as plants, providing new scope for researchers in all disciplines of biology.

Provided by University of Queensland

Explore further: Are we too predictable in our Android lock patterns?

Related Stories

Are we too predictable in our Android lock patterns?

August 23, 2015

After months—no, years— of security blogs telling us how dumb it is to choose easy to guess passwords such as password1234, we look for answers in ideas for strong authentication schemes. As for the Android pattern method ...

IRIS and Hinode: A Stellar research team

August 25, 2015

Modern telescopes and satellites have helped us measure the blazing hot temperatures of the sun from afar. Mostly the temperatures follow a clear pattern: The sun produces energy by fusing hydrogen in its core, so the layers ...

Communicating the consensus on climate change

August 10, 2015

Consider a medical analogy… If you saw 100 doctors about a mole that had appeared on your chest, and only three of them told you that it was benign, the chances are that you would probably do something about it, no matter ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.